Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Twice In A Lifetime Opportunity

But this is your second of the two chances...

Transits of Venus occur when Venus passes between the Earth and the Sun.  Because the Earth and Venus travel around the sun at different rates and orbit in slightly different planes they are not that common, on a human scale.  Transits of Venus are observed in pairs on a repeating pattern; 121 years, eight years between pairs, then 105 years until the next pair.  The most recent transit occurred in 2004.  Before that the last transit was in 1882.  The next will be in 2117, almost certainly too late for anyone reading this in 2012.

All my favorite blogs are chatting it up and showing you how to make your own viewer, or where to watch it on-line

I have a pinhole viewer set up.  It's a little more sophisticated than the two sheets of cardboard we used for the partial solar eclipse of the sun a couple weeks ago.  Don't know if I have sufficient resolution to make out the small black disk of Venus moving across the face of the Sun, but we'll give her a go.

WARNING: Do not look at the sun directly, let alone through a binocular or telescope, without appropriate filters!

Update: No joy.  We could not make out the disk against the sun, despite playing with the length of our viewer.  Caught the live feeds a couple times throughout the evening.  Oh well, maybe next time...